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Writing Horrible Words: The rationale for producing yet another book on English usage

  • Rebecca Gowers

At the ‘English Usage (Guides) Symposium’, Cambridge 2014, I was invited to account for my revision of Plain Words (Gowers, 2014), the style guide originally written by my great-grandfather, Sir Ernest Gowers (1880–1966). And because, by the time I gave that talk (see Gowers, 2018), I was already writing my own book on the English language, intended as a sort of adjunct to Plain Words, the arguments aired at that Cambridge gathering were particularly interesting to me. That said, they also left me more daunted than ever by my own project.

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Bex, T. 1999. ‘Representations of English in twentieth-century Britain: Fowler, Gowers and Partridge.’ In Bex, T. & Watts, R. J. (eds.), Standard English: The Widening Debate. London: Routledge, pp. 89109.
Gowers, E. 2014. Plain Words: A Guide to the Use of English. (Revised 4th edn.) Gowers, R. (ed.). London: Particular Books.
Gowers, R. 2016. Horrible Words: A Guide to the Misuse of English. London: Particular Books.
Gowers, R. 2018. ‘Even more complete plain words.’ In van Ostade, I. Tieken–Boon (ed.), English Usage Guides. History, Advice, Attitudes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 6981.
Heffer, S. 2010. Strictly English: The Correct Way to Write … and Why it Matters. London: Random House.
Humphrys, J. 2004. Lost for Words. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
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Millen, R. 2016. ‘Words to the wise on how to stress out priceless pedants.’ The Times, April 4, 20.
Oxford English Dictionary Online <> (Accessed April 1, 2017).
Skapinker, M. 2016. ‘A pedant's progress’. Financial Times, April 9, 9.
Truss, L. 2016. ‘A language policeman's lot is not a happy one.’ The Times, March 30, 25.
Wallace, A. 2016. ‘Books to watch out for in 2016.’ Irish Times, January, 2. Online at <> (Accessed April 1, 2017).
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English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
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